LOS ANGELES — A mountain lion tracked by biologists in mountains near Los Angeles gave birth over the summer to four healthy kittens, officials said this week.
The National Park Service said Tuesday that the cougar dubbed P-99 delivered the litter last July in the western Santa Monica Mountains.
The kittens, all females, have been named P-109, P-110, P-111, and P-112.
“We’ve added a kitten litter and two adult female mountain lions to our 20-year research study on mountain lions!” Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area officials posted on Facebook. “We are excited to follow these two mountain lions in the northern part of our study area and learn where their home ranges are and who they may be related to.”
Biologists were able to examine and tag the baby lions in late August while their mother was away from the den, the park service said in a statement.
In addition, two female adult mountain lions — P-105 and P-106 — have been added to the 20-year research study. Scientists are tracking how the big cats live in habitat fragmented by the LA area’s urban sprawl.
Los Angeles officials are considering creating a regional wildlife district aimed at protecting mountain lions and other animals including bobcats, coyotes and deer. The LA Planning Commission will take up the proposal this week.
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In June, a mountain lion that was struck and killed by a vehicle near Calabasas was pregnant with four kittens and had been exposed to multiple rat poisons, the park service reported earlier this year.
The 5-year-old mountain lion, dubbed P-54, had been part of a long-term study by the National Park Service. Biologists have studied mountain lions in Ventura and Los Angeles counties since 2002 to determine how they survive in an increasingly urban area.
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Last December, a litter of mountain lion kittens were rescued in Ventura County.
An employee reported the tiny, blue-eyed cougars on Nov. 29 after spotting them under a picnic table late that afternoon at his Thousand Oaks office. Wildlife biologists responded and found the four huddled together under thick brush. The scientists gave them a check up and fluids. They also outfitted the tiny mountain lions with small radio collars.
Though the ideal solution would have been to keep the kittens in their natural habitat, said Jeff Sikich, a National Park Service biologist, they ultimately were moved to the Orange County Zoo later that month, where zoo officials said they were “doing phenomenally well.”
“I know we all believe that the best life for them would be a life in the wild,” Sikich told the Ventura County Star.
The National Park Service, which has studied mountain lions living in Ventura and Los Angeles counties for nearly 20 years, at the time was tracking 15 cougars in the region.
This article originally appeared on Victorville Daily Press: Mountain lion delivers 4 tiny kittens in Southern California mountains